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Foliage Plant
of the month


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Monstera spp. (mon-STER-a)

Swiss-cheese plant, split-leaf philodendron, ceriman, Mexican bread-fruit, window leaf

Monsteras are known for their glossy, oversized green leaves with the distinctive, deeply cut lobes at their edges or holes that resemble swiss cheese (thus
the common name swiss-cheese plant). The most common indoor variety is Monstera deliciosa, which sometimes is sold mistakenly as Philodendron pertusum. Its
leaves can reach lengths of a foot or more. Indoors, plants can grow 6 to 8 feet over about seven years. Strong support is needed to grow a tall plant.

With proper care, these plants can live indoors for years.

Monsteras are available year-round.

LIGHT Average indoor light is appropriate. Keep the plants out of direct sun. Small leaves and spindly stalks are a sign the plant isn’t getting enough
light, and it can stop growing altogether in too-dark conditions.
WATER In spring through fall, water thoroughly and allow the soil to dry slightly between waterings. Water less frequently in winter.
TEMPERATURE Average warm indoor temperatures are appropriate; avoid temperatures below 55 F. For active growth, temperatures above 65 F are required.
humidity In heated home environments, misting the leaves can be beneficial.
FERTILIZER Feed every two weeks with a balanced houseplant fertilizer in spring and summer. Cut back to monthly feedings in fall and winter.
PROPOGATION Monsteras can be propagated through stem cuttings (select a location just below an aerial root), or air layering will create new roots ready for

PESTS AND PROBLEMS Watch for mealybugs, which can be removed with tweezers or a cotton swab dipped in alcohol, and spider mites, which can be sponged off
with soapy water. Regular leaf cleaning and an adequately humid environment help prevent these problems.
LEAVES WITHOUT PERFORATIONS Young plants often have solid leaves with no “windows” or lobes. On older plants, leaves’ failure to develop these perforations
means more light and fertilizer are needed.
AERIAL ROOTS Most Monsteras are epiphytes, which grow on other plants and elevated supports, gathering water and nutrients through their root coverings.
Aerial roots develop on Monstera stalks, and those close to the soil should be pushed into the compost; others should be trained around the support the plant
is growing on.
BROWN-TIPPED LEAVES Underwatering or too-dry air are the likely causes.
YELLOWED LEAVES Overwatering is the likely cause if many leaves are involved and if signs of wilting and rotting are present. If not, yellowed leaves may be
a sign the plant needs more fertilizer.

FAMILY Monsteras are members of the Araceae (Arum) family. Relatives include Philo-dendrons, callas, Anthuriums and pothoses.
WHAT'S IN A NAME The genus name comes from the Latin “monstrum,” which means “marvel” or “monster,” possibly referring to the size and shape of the leaves.
The species name “deliciosa” likely refers to the edible fruits these plants produce in the wild.
HOME SWEET HOME The plants are native to Mexico, Central and South America, and the West Indies.
THIS "CHEESE" ISN'T EDIBLE Monsteras contain a poisonous sap that if ingested can cause mouth and throat pain and shouldn’t be allowed to come in contact
with your eyes or other mucous membranes. Keep the plants out of reach of small children and pets, and wash your hands if you have come in contact with sap
through injured leaves.

Some information provided by:
Botanica, by R.G. Turner Jr. and Ernie Wasson
The Chain of Life Network®,
The Complete Houseplant Survival Manual, by Barbara Pleasant
The House Plant Expert, by Dr. D.G. Hessayon
The Houseplant Encyclopedia, by Ingrid Jantra and Ursula Krüger

Photos courtesy of The John Henry Company

You may reach Foliage Plant of the Month writer Amy Bauer by e-mail at or by phone at (800) 355-8086.


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